Celebrating Diversity Successfully


We all know that the strongest teams are made up of individuals with a range of skills, experiences, and perspectives to draw from. And with many businesses operating internationally, finding and engaging a culturally diverse workforce is an important competitive edge.

With Easter approaching, it’s easy to get overly focused on the chocolate eggs and bunnies, and forget that it’s actually a religious holiday – one that not everyone celebrates. While the business world tends to operate on the secular Western calendar, and observes holidays accordingly, many cultures use other calendars to determine holidays and celebrations.

(Click here for a great online multicultural calendar tool)

Keeping track of everyone’s celebrations can seem complicated, but marking important cultural traditions at work means that everyone is included. Celebrating diversity successfully means that everyone feels their beliefs, values, and traditions are recognized and appreciated, and is a fantastic way to strengthen employee engagement.

Need some tips? Here are some easy ways to foster a workplace that includes and celebrates everyone’s traditions:

1. Create a shared “cultural calendar”. There are lots of ways to create space for employees to share their important days: post a calendar in a shared space, manage a shared calendar online, circulate a monthly newsletter, or create a bulletin board for employees to post on. Having a shared calendar also simplifies accommodating requests for days off for culturally significant traditions, since you’ll be aware of them in advance.

2. Build in education opportunities around diversity. Have an employee that celebrates a different holiday? If they’re open to sharing, ask them to present a lunch and learn on their traditional celebrations. Sharing traditions is a great way to learn about each other, foster appreciation, and strengthen team dynamics.

3. Make it fun! In smaller organizations, host a potluck and invite everyone to bring in a traditional food item from their cultural background. Take turns sharing the origins and personal significance of each dish before you dig in.

4. Incorporate diverse décor. We all spend many hours a week at work, and having an inviting physical space is essential to employee morale. Solicit input from employees, and display a rotating gallery of art or culturally significant objects in public spaces at work. Incorporate a variety of plants and furnishings from various cultures to ensure that everyone feels included and comfortable at work.

5. Support a minority organization. Host fundraisers? Consider making donations as a group to a minority non-profit. Or branch out and order a business lunch from a local ethnic restaurant instead of ordering pizza.

Your Engaged Assignment: No time to organize a potluck this week? Conduct a quick survey asking employees what their culture eats to celebrate different holidays, and then circulate the results to get people talking.